Principal's Blog - 19 March 2020

18 Mar 2020

Dear Members of the Marcellin Family,

As the COVID 19 Coronavirus pandemic unfolds, I would like to remind you that all documentation published by the College in relation to this issue can be found here

Given there has been much correspondence so far, I won’t add to it in this forum. Instead, I would like to briefly reflect on how our Catholic faith might inform our response to the current situation in the light of some ‘off the cuff’ comments made by Pope Francis on Monday of this week. There are 4 comments in particular I would like to focus on.

1. “In the present situation, in which we find ourselves living more or less isolated, we are invited to rediscover and deepen the value of the communion that unites all the members of the church.”

For those many people who find themselves compulsorily isolated, perhaps there is a somewhat rare opportunity. How often do we lament just not having time to slow down – to be ‘in the moment’ and reflect on our lives and our common humanity. Having spent 30 days on a silent retreat as part of my Sabbatical in 2018, I am very conscious of the value (not always easy to see, admittedly) of some time away form the noise and distractions of our usual routine. It offers time and space to enter into conversation with the Lord and that can be uplifting for our souls.

2. “United to Christ we are never alone, we form one body, of which he is the head.”

It is a comforting thought to see ourselves as connected to something bigger. During uncertain and anxious times, we can take solace in our ‘never being alone’.

3. “I renew my closeness to all who are sick and to those who care for them.” He also extended his closeness to “the many workers and volunteers that help the persons who cannot leave their homes, as well as to all those who reach out to the very poor and the homeless.” He thanked all these people “for the effort that each of you make to help people in this hard moment.” He prayed, “May God bless you and Our Lady protect you.”

We can sometimes remain very focussed on our own situation, our own health and our own issues – all very important and understandable. Pope Francis is reminding us though of the Christian imperative to be aware of others and their needs as well and to be grateful to those who assist them. In our Marist language we often refer to it as being ‘other-centred’. We pray for those who are in difficulty and those who support them, and we lend practical support ourselves where possible. The Pope makes specific mention of Mary in his prayer and for us as Marists, we also call on Mary in prayer at this time.

4. At Mass this morning, Pope Francis asked everyone to join him in praying especially “for all those who are working to guarantee public services: those working in pharmacies, supermarkets, transportation, police officers…so that social and civil life can go ahead.”

We express our gratitude to and we pray for those who continue to work in difficult circumstances to provide our public services - health professionals, police, emergency workers, politicians, pharmacists etc - as well as those who are keeping our civil life afloat.

In summary, our prayer, discernment and self-reflection can actually be heightened at this time and this can present an opportunity to turn our focus to others. As a Marist community we continue to pray, through Mary, for all those significantly impacted by the coronavirus and those who work to support them.

With blessings for the week ahead.

John Hickey